Wicked Wednesdays 17.09.14: The Face

Grump

I was just taking some lovely ‘pickled head’ selfies with the boys the other day when all of a sudden I noticed EJ had put on ‘the face’. Still to this day I do not know what that was all about! Two year old’s eh? Still makes me chuckle every time I look at it though, tee hee! Linking up with Wicked Wednesdays – a collection of imagery intended, I presume, to explore the more *ahem* difficult/full on/downright nutty moments of this parenting train we have all found ourselves a-riding!

 

brummymummyof2

The Black and White Photography Project: Panda and Monkey

Monkey and Panda

If you’re going to take a great b&w photo might as well take it of something black and white! Panda is getting a lot of love from the boys these days after they discovered that their cousin’s favourite toy is a Panda called ‘Pat Pat’ (I think!). They’ve both got a monkey and they do love their monkeys! I was going to say it’s like visiting an apiary going into their room (four monkeys – including them!) but actually an apiary is for bees. A primate enclosure?? 🙂

Linking up with Charly’s Black and White Photography Project over at Podcast Dove.


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The Empty Days…

It hasn’t happened that much recently but there are times when I find myself alone with my children – I mean completely alone, no hope of a play date or a even a family member to help out for an hour or two. There will be stay at home mums out there laughing their proverbial arses off reading this I’m sure – what self respecting parent would find one day alone with her own kids so challenging?

I could give lots of reasons: they are two and (just about to turn) five; they are boisterous boys; the eldest is highly strung (two small dogs attempted to “enthusiastically greet” him in the park yesterday and he almost jumped up onto my shoulders whilst screaming hysterically!); the youngest has a habit of throwing things… the list could go on, but actually, maybe I’m just not good enough as a mum – not enough planning and organisation when it comes to getting out the craft materials; sometimes to be seen engrossed in the social media whilst they start fights with other small children over plastic spinners at playgrounds (I blame the new iPhone); giving in too easily to the demands…

So I’m being completely honest here – long days on my own with the pair of them (the hubster being a shift worker) do occasionally fill me with dread.

Having said that our day yesterday was filled with ordinary moments that make it ok. I took them down to the local playground on their scooters and enjoyed watching EJ define his own scootery style (bottom stuck out, right leg pushing and then drawn right up, hovering as the momentum carries him forwards). They had their obligatory ice lollies and happily played for some time (EJ insisting that I “sit down” instead of hovering around him at the top of the slide). Then we went home and put EJ down for his nap before heading off to their favourite soft play later where I ordered them some ‘healthy’ food – some of which actually got eaten!
They had a ball playing hide and seek in there with some older kids whilst I learnt how to download a book on my iPhone.

Bedtime was trickier with an almighty meltdown after JJ dumped a big towel in the bath with his brother – cue two over tired, naked children running, screaming and, in one case, weeing on the carpet. *sigh*. At least it all ended in a group cuddle on my bed, a child under each arm allowing their mummy to soothe and comfort them, stroke their fluffy heads and tell them how much I still love them despite their, frankly, deranged behaviour…

This was just an ordinary, unplanned day full of little challenges, but also full of love and laughter and cuddles and despite being left completely frazzled and wine o’clock coming far too late, I know these days will be over in the blink of an eye so I’ll focus on the fun, funny, silly, ordinary, yet extraordinary moments and the overwhelming love I feel for my two cheeky monkeys.

Linking up to The Ordinary Moments over on Mummy Daddy and Me Makes Three.

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The week so far…

It’s only Tuesday but so far the week has been quite packed! On Saturday night the hubster and I decided that we should rope in some grandparents to take over the nutty bedtime routine for us while we escaped to Prezzo for a yummy meal together – our first in goodness knows how long. It was good to be able to get out and interact without a small child demanding toast/his bottom wiped/juice/the purchase of a football (or just random, unexplained screaming) at any given moment, although the hubster did his best imitation (only kidding 😉 ).

We both opted for the spaghetti carbonara after a smorgasboard of garlic & pesto laden breads and then I was treated to a yummy amaretto gelato. So far so good.

When we returned, expecting to find the house, potentially, razed to the ground, in reality? Everything was fine. The two-year-old was tucked up in his cot (albeit awake) and the four-year-old was up (as normal) with two grandparents tutting and laughing about the fact that he was insisting he was allowed honey on toast before bed (he is, ahem! In my defence I reckon honey is a superfood – see this article).

On Sunday I went to work for four hours overtime, my day beginning at 5.30am. I realise that this is normal getting up time for some poor parents, but ours (probably because they stay up so bloomin’ late!) are 8am boys so this was “trés tôt pour moi”! (Get me – finally figured out how to put French accents on typed letters – such an important life skill…)

When I returned we jumped in the car and drove over to the folks for a delicious Sunday roast – my mum excelling herself as always with beef and yorkies and yummy home made gravy (it has to be home-made – says she who has never made gravy before in her life!). Later on we took the boys up to the local rec so they could run off some energy (and longingly ogle the skate park as always!).

On Monday, once again I was up and out for work early, but I only work mornings on Mondays and the hubster is on holiday so on my return, after taking JJ for a quick trip to the local swings whilst his brother napped (which involved me purchasing his latest fad from the ubiquitous ice cream van – blue ice lollies – yuk!) we all piled in to the car and took a trip over to our local Costco. Why has no-one ever told us about Costco before??? It’s bloody brilliant! The kids were all over the giant teddy bears and made best friends with the ladies giving away free samples of sweet pancakes and chicken pies (I’m not sure what exactly constitutes a ‘fair’ helping of free samples but I’m pretty sure we exceeded it…). I loved the cheap Marlborough wines and the big bottles of vanilla extract and the hubster was quite taken with the enormous multi-packs of Tassimo latte! We stopped at the cafe on the way out for more chicken pie (no one mention chicken and bacon pie to me for at least a week please), and a big hot dog for JJ. We managed to get away with only three medium sized drink spillages – yay!

Blue tongue

Today (Tuesday) is the day I am off work and the munchkins were in with our lovely childminders. As the hubster is off on annual leave this week we decided to make the most of the opportunity for a day out – sans enfants – and I put my cooking and cleaning on hold. We decided on a visit to Arundel castle in West Sussex. It took us about an hour to get there but it was a lovely scenic drive down through the South Downs National Park. It’s a lovely part of the world and the castle is well worth a visit (although we opted for ‘silver’ tickets which allowed us access to the grounds, chapels and the castle Keep for about £11 a head and didn’t see the full insides of the castle proper).

I guess I must be a ‘Horrible Histories’ kind of girl because the things that struck me were:

  • Garderobes – a ‘rudimental’ toilet – basically just a hole hanging over the side of a steep Keep wall, meaning that everything would have stunk like a skunk in high summer!
  • Tombs with the effigy of the dead person on top. Why portray the body quite clearly dead and shrivelled? Why not portray them as they were in life? Weird ancients.
  • Posed life-sized ‘guard’ models – particularly one by a portcullis who appeard to be having a good cough. Nice.

I do love a good castle!

On the way home we stopped off for a very tasty pub lunch before stopping into Petworth House – a National Trust property with extensive parkland attached. We really were in a bit of a rush by this point as we were on a countdown to get back in time to pick the kids up at 4. One whistle-stop tour of the house, (wondering what on earth was going on in some of those sculptures) was all we could manage but no worries as we are NT members so no money changed hands!

I now have two full work days ahead whilst the hubster has big plans for the boys (and even the girl) before we re-assess our idea to have a family day trip down to Brighton (my old univeristy stomping grounds) on Friday.

Gotta love a bit of staycationing!

 

Childhood highlights and memories

Garrison Keillor quote

The above quote forms this week’s Prompt from Sara over at Mum Turned Mom.

Does anyone really have one singular highlight in any given phase of growing up? It seems like writer’s license to suggest that this could be the case…

For me summer holidays glow in my memory like permanent fireworks. I’ve written before about our holidays to Corfu and our canal boat meander down the Canal du Midi in Southern France. We also had a fantastic trip to Iceland when I was eleven and I’ll never forget hiking what seemed like miles in a murky fug with my sister moaning non stop about her wet socks to be greeted by the most stunning naturally heated volcanic outdoor pool which appeared like an oasis out of the mist. Swimming in that pool will always be a highlight (and the fact that my sister chilled out somewhat after that (well, until she had to put her socks back on!).

It seems that despite our small 2.5 year age gap and the fact that we spent a lot of time in each other’s company there were always so many other children around in our neighbourhood that I don’t have any very specific memories of just the two of us as children. I remember making “radio” plays together with our friends – silly made up ghost stories at sleepovers and trying to freak each other out with scary stories like the tale of the hairy toe!

We also have a funny shared memory of walking together to our local swimming pool along with her friend Sarah who’s little sister – in my mind – was a bit like “My Naughty Little Sister” from the wonderful stories of Dorothy Edwards. As we were walking down this nice, suburban, residential street in South West London Sarah’s little sister suddenly announced that she needed the loo and couldn’t wait. We set her by a tree expecting a quick wee and she proceeded to do a poo the likes of which a grizzly bear would have been proud!! I’m not sure how old we were but I’d guess we were at Junior school which would have made them about ten, me about eight and the little sister about five or six.

In reality we became much closer as young adults – lots of great memories of our late teens/early 20s. We’ve always had a similar sense of humour but I don’t think I’ve ever managed to make her laugh so hard that food has shot out of her nose. I’ll have to work on that 😉

 

mumturnedmom

Where do you draw the line with blogging?

Nothing-is-Ever-Black-or-White

Sometimes things happen in my life that I badly need to talk about – a shoulder to cry on if you will. This blog is a bit like a journal. I want to be able to discuss feelings and incidents but I know I can’t. It’s not the correct forum; it’s too public; the things I want to say are too raw.

Maybe the same is true for others in the same boat but I wonder whether any other parent bloggers out there have anything as unsettling in their lives which they also feel cannot be breached in this way?

I guess I’m lucky that I do have lovely friends and family to turn to when the going gets tough but there are times when I feel like I’m on my own and I’m floundering and I don’t know what to do for the best.

I’m sorry if this is cryptic – I know there’s nothing worse than a cryptic status update – ha! I understand though, that sometimes you just want to throw your state of mind into an arena of ‘friendly faces’ in the hopes that just one person will pick up on it and feel a little stab of concern.

I once showed up to a toddler group and pretty much sobbed my way through the entire ninety minutes – just relieved to tell somebody – anybody – what I’d been going through.
The problem with the written word is that it is so final and so, well, black and white (unless you’re using a green gel pen).

This may sound melodramatic and maybe it is. Life can be so wonderful – especially with children who bring so much joy and laughter (in amongst the little irritations and the endless demands!). We’re all just finding our way and maybe things are more green than black and white at any given moment. But when the black and white seep into my brain and I feel like I’m in a dark place I can’t put pen to paper (or digits to keyboard) and keep posting jolly stuff about romps in parks and pretty trinkets. It feels almost worse not to say anything at all though, hence this post.

Apologies – normal service will soon be resumed…

On blogging strategy…

blog-post-it-strategy

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the world’s greatest forward planner – momentous events often creep up on me like some kind of stealth bomber. I tend to have my brain constantly switched to the present moment, and I miss things – I forget birthdays/anniversaries/events and opportunities. Without tight and immovable deadlines I am sunk.

I know I need to work on this – I’m not sure if there is some kind of brain training programme to help people like me. I’ve read books on time management and improving organisational skills – I am wowed at the simplicity, I attempt to follow the guidelines but it’s like trying to re-set a clock which constantly loses time – before you know it you are once more six months from where you want to be.

This has implications for blogging too. It’s a bit like work when you don’t have a career, or your paid work doesn’t feel like your true calling in life. A successful career, or even a successful work project, takes forward planning and strategy. Right now my blog means a lot to me and, like many others, I’m constantly assessing and re-assessing what I’m doing, why I’m doing it and how I’m doing it. I read a lot of other blogs and I’ve started to make a note of ideas and features which appeal to me, which make good sense and improve on what is otherwise just the day to day ramblings of another mother. I’m also picking up tips on improving my online rankings because, despite the fact that I’m not too bothered about ‘playing the SEO game’ I can see that better rankings mean better visibility, better visibility means more readers, more readers means more chance of being talent spotted, paid a small fortune and moving to Barbados (ha ha ha ha ha ha bonk [laughed til her head fell off]).

But sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the moment when you have little children. They suck up that space in your head which used to be free for dreaming, planning and strategising. It’s less “where do I see myself in five years time” and more “where do I see myself in five minutes time if my car keys have disappeared from the bottom stair and the two year old is upstairs flushing the toilet?”.

Reading posts like this from the ever fab BrummyMummyof2 make me focus in on what’s important to me in blogging, and, well really, in life – where true success lies – having your writing acknowledged, rewarded, comment-worthy, thought provoking, syndicatable (is that a word??). So that’s it then – better get on and write something syndicatable!

 

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Love the little things week 5

Read

I have got lots of books waiting to be read – A Landing on the Sun by Michael Frayn (recommended by Gretchen Rubin, Happiness Guru!), Also Skios by Michael Frayn, Don’t ask by Donald E. Westlake (one of his crime capers that I have never read – but I love, love, love his writing in this genre so much!), The Sleeper by Emily Barr (which came up on my Kindle as a recommendation after I read and enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and ditto One Step too Far by Tina Seskis. I think I may well put Kate Atkinson aside for the duration of next week (our first summer holiday!) and pick up the Emily Barr…

Watched

I finally got around to watching the first episode of Series 8 of Dexter! I love this show and I have always relied on picking it up from either Love Film or Netflix so way out of date with the rest of the world who are organised enough to keep up with either bizarre TV scheduling or have the money for Sky!

Wore

I’m really quite excited because I’ve been on a bit of summer shopping spree and decided to base my summer wardrobe around red, white and blue with a bit of a nautical theme and a bit Breton (forgive me if I’m two seasons behind!). Here is a pic of me in my new asymmetrical vest dress from Next:

Next dress

Heard

I wouldn’t ordinarily choose something like this but I’ve been hearing this Katy Perry song a *lot* on the radio this week and it is rapidly becoming one of those songs that will always remind me of this summer. Plus my friend Keri and I had a good laugh the other day about the ridiculous innuendo laden lyrics, “So let me get you in your Birthday Suit…It’s time to bring out the *BIG* balloons” tee hee

Made

This week, as I am still trying to live healthy (woo hoo – two weeks in!) I have been making a lot of smoothies and fresh fruit milk shakes. I also decided to try my hand at something I’ve been meaning to attempt for some time: a cake made with no flour or sugar. I opted for a recipe for a Chocolate Banana Cake from the lovely Mummy Tries from her other website Mummy Tries Gaps.

Choc banana cake

It’s made with ground almonds, cocoa powder, eggs, vanilla essence, ripe bananas and coconut milk and oil. It was quite a different texture from regular cake, more moussey, and, to satisfy my sweet tooth I drizzled a little honey over the top and it was really lovely!

And Lastly…

Lots of lovely things! I had a fab night out at a bar on the Kingston upon Thames riverside with Elfa from Californian Mum in London on Saturday night – what’s not like about Pimms, a shared bottle of white and lots of bloggy chat in real life! So much fun to meet a fellow blogger IRL at last and makes up for not being able to make BritMums this year (Elfa has promised to represent me in my absence 🙂 ).

I’m excited about heading off to Overstrand on the North Norfolk coast on holiday on Saturday with the hubster and kids – we’ve got big plans for lots of fun days out!; and I’m excited by all my little purchases this week – I have gone a bit mad and treated myself to a few lovely bits and pieces like this nautical bag from Next (flower brooch and shoes model’s own 🙂 )

Nautical bag & red shoes

Happy Friday Little Loves!

Sam X